Back in the early 60’s Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby brought the character of Thor out of Norse mythology and into the Marvel universe of comic book heroes. After 50 years and roughly 500 issues, not to mention over 5 years in development, Marvel Studios (with the help of Paramount Pictures) bring THOR to the big screen.
The movie’s plot is the (slightly modified from the comics) origin story of how Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) became the Marvel superhero we grew up knowing. Thinking only of winning, battle and conquering, his father, Odin (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) punishes Thor and sends him to Earth to learn humility. After which he sends Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, to Earth in the event he becomes worthy of wielding it once again. Loki, his adopted brother, takes the throne after Odin falls ill.
With THOR having started in the 60’s, there was a lot the to worry about when it was reported that a film was on the way. Among such colorful things they could screw up was Bifrost (or the Rainbow Bridge). A magical bridge leading to Midgard (Earth) has been shown in the comic, simply how it sounds, as a bridge that looks like a rainbow. I’m happy to report that the art direction, and costumes for that matter, do not disappoint. They were not only appropriately and respectfully modernized, but they did not look gaudy or cheesy. All of this is led and told by actor/director Kenneth Branagh who does a great job directing without making the directing obvious. One thing that must be mentioned is the excellent sound design. With every hit of the hammer, providing you’re in a properly equipped theatre, you feel and hear the weight of such a weapon wielded by the god of thunder. The movie’s music/score are also very well done.
Casting too. Most of us had just met Chris Hemsworth when we saw him as Capt. Kirk’s father in the opening scene of J.J. Abrahms STAR TREK. Despite the differences in character, you never doubt the filmmakers’ decision to cast him. Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, an astrophysicist doing research in New Mexico. While it’s nice to see her in a lighter role, she still was able to put a great deal into the character. The rest of the cast like Stellan Skarsgärd and Kat Dennings also give great performances. You’ll also see Rene Russo as Frigga, Thor’s mother and wife to Hopkins’ Odin. Finally, and once again, Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) and Clarg Gregg (Agent Coulson) reprise their roles as agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
More and more, Marvel Studios is putting in the effort and care into the films based on their classic characters that comic book geeks have longed for since the Batman/Schumacher fiasco. While the only complaint was that it seemed the battle between antagonist and protagonist is separated into two smaller battles, the storytelling makes up for it. With Marvel having their own studio and the most likely success of this years films, sequels are becoming expected just as you’d expect another issue of the comic book. Both comic book geeks will be pleased and I think non-geeks will be much entertained by THOR. Lastly, stay after the credits for that litte extra scene Marvel films have been come to be known for that teases a future movie.
NOTE REGARDING SEEING THE MOVIE IN 3D: As with most of the 3D movies nowadays. the 3D is nothing special in THOR. Unless a movie is specifically filmed in 3D like AVATAR, it’s mostly a gimmick to add a minimal amount of depth to the the screen. As you’d expect, there are a number of shots to show off the 3D (snow falling, flag poles in the Asgard crowd, etc.) but later in the movie you forget about the 3D and you’ve just got these oversized 3D glasses on ya.